Public Services International intervention at plenary review of SDG 3 (Health)

Speaking on behalf of the Major Group of Workers and Trade Unions at the United Nations’ High Level Political Forum 2017, Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of Public Services International (PSI), highlighted the need to maintain a robustly funded public sector at the helm of health policy implementation. The full text of Ms. Pavanelli’s speach is available below.

GS Pavanelli’s intervention begins at 1:42:00

As a productive economic sector, health is a source of growth able to create decent jobs, in particular for women. Given the demands of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of Universal Health Coverage, work in health will require major transformations, including substantial increases in the numbers of healthcare workers. Governments have the core responsibility for education and employment in the health sector and the ultimate accountability to ensure the human right to health through universal access to health care.

There is an urgent need to restructure the international taxation system to capture immense revenues that are systematically avoided and evaded. Health should be one of the highest priorities for the expenditure of such revenues, given the benefit of investment in health and the associated returns to the economy, productivity and employment. We know that cuts in health spending have had devastating outcomes in some cases. The Ebola outbreak has directed attention to the failings of the development model and led to calls for greater coordinated public financed health systems.

We need to be very clear about the fact that it does matter how health services are provided and that public health systems produce better health outcomes.

I invite all of you to read the outcome document of the UN High-level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth – adopted at the GA last year - that sets out concrete recommendations to address the many challenges in the health sector. In the mean time – allow me to remind u of our core priorities:

  1. Universal Health Coverage should be guaranteed by governments, through public health provision that guarantees universal, free and comprehensive health services for all; where mixed systems are in place, strong public governance needs to be assured;
  2. Ensure that increased financial resources from existing and new sources, as a result of tax reform policies, are utilized to raise wages and improve employment conditions of healthcare workers, starting with the current pool of the global health workforce;
  3. Ensure that policies, regulations and laws address occupational health and safety as a priority issue, and the control of violence at work is included in plans and programmes to increase the quantity and quality of health workers at all levels; with the participation of trade unions through collective bargaining at sectoral level;
  4. Adapted ratios of patients to healthcare workers;
  5. Avoid the promotion of PPPs for the provision of health care; while attempts at establishing standards for PPPs in health should be inclusive of all governments (including local authorities), as well as the major stakeholders (users of health services, health sector workers, and others); establish criteria for the transparent evaluation and periodical review of existing PPPs in health at local level.
    People First PPPs sounds nice, but we know that they are the exception, not the rule.
    People should come before profit. Always.

The world is watching – we are here to ensure that promises made are promises kept and that this agenda will not be a mere vehicle for privatisation.

Thank you.

Additional information:

  • This plenary session of the HLPF is available here.
  • Trade unions’ participation in HLPF 2017 is available here.
  • PSI’s work on the 2030 Agenda is available here.